Two Big Things in Google Search + Mobile

Two big announcements happened recently in the mobile world.

Google announced Accelerated Mobile Pages, or the AMP Project. They also announced indexing for iOS9 apps. This stuff sounds really technical and boring, but it’s huge for publishers. They allow your mobile and app content to be accessed quickly and easily by more people.

This is a win-win for you and your audience, here’s what you need to know.

The Problem

Mobile is quickly becoming the standard for accessing content, while desktop is taking a back seat. Not only that, but wearable devices and the Internet of Things is gaining momentum.

This is nothing new, and most people are up on things like responsive web design, and even mobile apps. The problem is that many website publishers are doing a half ass job of serving their content on mobile.

Slow load times, poorly thought out mobile design, and general clunkiness are frustrating mobile users everywhere. Attention spans are getting shorter, and a few milliseconds can be the difference between reading an article or closing it in impatience.

What’s ad blocking got to do with it?

Ads are one of the main culprits slowing down mobile web pages.

Apple started allowing ad blockers in iOS9, which caused an uproar from publishers crying foul. The ethics of ad blocking notwithstanding, this was a direct blow to Google’s main stream of revenue through AdWords.

It’s no coincidence that Google released the AMP Project shortly after.

Accelerated Mobile Pages

Google’s answer to the poor job the internet is doing for mobile is to create a new cross-platform specification. Here is a quote from their website:

Accelerated Mobile Pages are just like any other HTML page, but with a limited set of allowed technical functionality that is defined and governed by the open source AMP spec. Just like all web pages, Accelerated Mobile Pages will load in any modern browser or app webview.

In layman’s terms, this means they are creating a standardized way for people to use lightweight, fast web pages for mobile. They will then be able to display these pages directly in web search, in a mobile app (like Twitter), or anywhere. Here’s a video demo from the Google Blog:

What does this look like in the real-world?

Let’s say you are in the Twitter mobile app, and you click on a link to an article in a friend’s tweet. Instead of loading up the normal web page in a browser like it does now (that could take forever and load a ton of ads), Twitter will load the AMP page. It just means that the page will load super fast, and it will be a great experience for you.

The same would happen in a Google search. If you search for “Democratic Debate” on mobile, any result you click on that supports AMP will load a super fast lightweight page instead of loading the normal webpage.

This could end mobile load time frustration once and for all.

What does this look like for publishers?

From a technical standpoint, you need to create a separate AMP page for any pages you want to work this way.

AMP has it’s own technical specification which you can see on Github, and does not support javascript. You can customize the look of the page with CSS, but you cannot add any custom javascript. This is to ensure fast page load times.

I would expect with a CMS like WordPress, there will be a plugin that automatically converts all of your pages to AMP, and you won’t have to do anything manually.

This is a good thing for publishers and mobile users everywhere, and I’m excited to see it roll out over the coming months.

To learn how to setup AMP on your site, check out our guide on speeding up WordPress, with a special section on AMP.

Indexing for iOS9 apps

Google has supported app indexing for Android apps for a while now, and they just announced support for iOS9.

This means that the content in your app can be a part of Google search, just like your website pages are. If you have a recipe app, all of your recipes can be searchable. Not only that, but if someone finds your BBQ Pulled Pork recipe and clicks on it, it can open in your app.

This essentially allows apps to contribute to your SEO and customer acquisition in ways that were never possible before. We already wrote an article extolling the virtues of app indexing, so I won’t beat it to death here. Here’s a quote from Ionic co-founder Max Lynch:

On the web, just any old person can build a website or blog, but can everyone have an app? Before today, I would have said “No”: Apps in the app store are for businesses or the rare celeb who can draw downloads, but not really for the average person. Most people don’t have a reason to have an app in the app store, like they might a web page.

Now that apps are indexed, though, that completely changes. It doesn’t matter if your lifestyle blog with three readers (Thanks, Mom!) draws downloads: If it can draw relevant search results, people will naturally open/install your app, instead of going to your website (if you even have one!). Discoverability, one of the biggest problems with today’s app stores, just took a major step forward.

To learn more about App Indexing for iOS and Android, check out the Google Developers site.

Exit mobile version